Letters to My Younger Self


Old Dhaka, East Pakistan

When you were four years, four months, and four days old,
new slate and chalk in hand,
dressed in blue silk,
you had your first lesson.

Dr. Shahidullah performed the ceremony:
recited Arabic, then Bengali,
prayed you would use the gift of language
for good, that words would guide your life.

He gently moved your finger holding chalk
across the slate—
first, tracing "Bismillah" in Arabic,
then your name in Bengali.

Perhaps your love of ritual started here.
Afterwards, there were sweets and smiles
from gathered family and friends.

And indeed, you never gave up the word.

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